Get your hands to the ball
What about the rest of you? Always remember, the hands are the last part of the catching process! Just like batting, you need to be near it first!
One of the most common mistakes coaches make when fielding, is one of the most fundamental….they watch the ball not the player! By the time they are watching the right things, it’s too late!
Have a close look at your players, to see if they are consistently right under or behind the ball!
GROUND FIELDING: Approach at the right angle! – Set off in the right direction. Either forwards, diagonally or side-to-side.
- SWIVEL – turning your feet quickly, so that instead of shuffling, the fielder can sprint to the ball
- UPPER BODY FACING THE BALL – as the legs move quickly sideways, it is important that your upper body is facing forwards. Use your arms for balance
- GETTING DOWN AT THE RIGHT TIME – get as close to the ball as you can, before you start to reach for the ball. Reaching out with your arms, or stooping too early, slows you down (meaning crucial distance lost)!
BOUNDARY FIELDING: Use the “Banana Run” – the “Banana Run” is a phrase I have coined, to explain the movement involved when you patrol the boundary.
When the ball comes off the bat, a fielder picks up the line first – “is the ball to my left or right”? This is the direction you set off in. Why? Because if the ball is struck hard, every millisecond counts. By “hugging” the boundary rope, you buy extra time to cover more ground….if you need it!
Later on you will pick up the length. This is where the “Banana Run” comes into play. If the ball is losing pace, and you can attack it, start to bend your run in-field.
It may only take 2 or 3 steps for you to realize you can attack the ball. But using this technique, you can be sure you are taking the exact path to the ball you need, saving crucial split seconds!
- AVOID – “Reverse Banana”, where the fielder runs in too early, realises they won’t cut off the ball at this angle and suddenly has to curve backwards.
CHASING TO BOUNDARY – the “Scoop & Roll” – If you chase the ball back towards the boundary, your body position is crucial.
Think about how you approach the ball. Remember that it’s not just getting to the ball that matters here, it’s keeping it off the boundary. Not an easy task when all your body’s momentum is hurtling forwards!
Make sure you approach the ball slightly to the side. This allows you to hook the ball off the boundary, with a rotating body. Benefits of this include
- MORE “SURFACE AREA” – you can use your entire forearm to keep the ball off the ropes. More margin for error
- LESS CHANCE OF “DOUBLE CONTACT” – you don’t want to scoop the ball into your own body….as this will take the ball back over the line
- RECOVERING FOR THROW – this action allows you to tumble over, and spring back onto your feet straight away
HIGH CATCHING: “X Marks the Spot!” – some players idly walk forwards, and allow the ball to drift over their head. Others hesitate, and are too late to realize the ball is dropping out of reach.
A third group pick up the ball quickly, run 99% of the way, but miss the crucial FINAL step underneath the ball.
Catchers want to be in a position they can a) get their hands to the ball, and b) cushion it with their arms, shoulders and knees (not just their hands).
FLAT CATCHING – Swaying Body – Move your hands to the ball, but make sure your body moves into line as well!
- Bend “leading leg” (one closest to ball) – like batting, this will let your body move in line, and not get stuck
- Steady “trailing leg” – don’t let it slide around, as this will turn your body
Not so good technique: